October 25, 2014 was a life changing day for me to say the least.
Elle was born at 1:25pm at Foothills Hospital in Calgary.
After a fairly easy and physically uneventful pregnancy, I was not sure what to expect when it came to the delivery. I will do a whole different post on my mental and emotional journey while pregnant with Elle.
I felt like I had done everything 'right' to prepare for childbirth. I had read many books from Hypnobirthing to Ina May's Guide to Childbirth to the Bradley Method. I had taken two different birth preparation classes with Marcel, and spent HOURS researching on the web. All because I wanted an unmedicated, vaginal birth.
I wanted to be a rockstar in the delivery room.
I wanted to be prepared.
I wanted to feel in control of the situation.
I wanted to have an easier recovery and bounce back quickly.
But we know now that things do not always go as planned. Things got a little sideways and messy.
Let's rewind to the beginning.
I was 41 weeks when I had my first contraction.
I had spent the last 2 weeks doing EVERYTHING I could think of or research to evict this baby girl from my giant body.
We were having a fairly relaxing Friday evening. Nothing special on the go, basically just hanging out and waiting for Monday when my induction was booked.
Contractions came on pretty quickly and pretty strong. We tried to go outside for a walk to work through them, but I didn't make it past the neighbour's driveway.
Next step was to try and tough it out in the tub because I had read that a warm bath is soothing and helps with the pain. Let me tell you... unless you have a nice big corner soaker tub, at 41 weeks pregnant you do not fit into a standard tub very well. Let alone when you have to keep moving around to find a 'comfortable' spot for each contraction.
We started timing the contractions and then we couldn't remember when we were supposed to go into the hospital. Was it a contraction every 5 minutes? or 3?
After some quick Googling, we realized, we need to be there now! Contractions were every 2-3 minutes and very intense.
When we got to the hospital it was just after 9pm, they had no beds in triage, so we were asked to hang out in the back up triage room. This broom closet was the smallest of overflow spaces.
The nurse came in to assess us and realized I was already at 7cm, this baby was coming fast! (given, I was walking around at 4cm all week with no real indication that she was ready to come out)
They called in the Dr (who happened to be at the OB clinic that morning when we had our final check up and booked our induction), he did a check and told the nurses to start to prep the room for delivery. They wheeled in trays covered with all the tools and told us not to touch anything. You could hardly move in this tiny room as it was.
Finally, an actual labour room opened up and we were able to move down the hall to what seemed like a luxury suite in comparison.
Contractions were very unpleasant, but without anything to compare them to, I just went with it.
Several checks, a shift change and pretty much 0 movement from 8cm onward.
After a while, I let them start a Pitocin drip to help get us back in the swing of things. Contractions never really stalled, but baby was not in the optimal position and was not keen on rolling over. They hoped that the Pitocin would help increase the contractions to move her down and into a better position. No dice.
Eventually they offered to break my water in hopes that it would help her to descend.
That also was not helpful and hurt like a mother!
We got to fully dilated, but baby was OP (occipito posterior) position meaning she entered the pelvis facing forward with her back towards my back. (The back of the baby's head is referred to as the 'occiput' and is in the back of the pelvis against the sacrum.) I didn't realize until after, that this meant I was experiencing 'back labour' which is a heck of a lot more painful than regular labour. Lucky me.
I was still against drugs for the pain because my labour was going to be unmedicated.
The OB resident arrived and she thought we could try and manually rotate baby with her hands and prime her into the optimal position to start pushing. Each time she rotated baby, baby would roll right back. Also not comfortable.
Contractions were crazy at this point and I start to lose a bit of my clear memory. It was well into Saturday morning and we had been at 9.5cm for hours.
Dr kept saying that things were looking like we had two options; either Forceps, or C-Section. No thank you!
I kept asking to give it time, to give me time, to give baby time. No one was in distress, I felt like I could keep going, I just really didn't want to stray from my birth plan.
We got to the point to start pushing. Dr was going to rotate baby, and hold her in position so that I could push on the following contraction. She was not having it. She was a feisty baby!
I pushed for 2 hours. The nurses kept saying "if she was in the right position she would fly across this room I was pushing so strong". This fuelled me to keep going, to keep pushing.
Everyone kept asking if I wanted something for the pain. My ego wouldn't let me.
Finally they levelled with me. Things were not progressing. I was pushing with all my might, but this was going to have to be forceps or c-section. And there was no way I could do either of those without some meds. So they paged the anesthesiologist.
It was busy and he took a while to get there, so it was 3 hours into my pushing that I received my epidural. (Which was probably the most painful part of the whole day thus far)
Once the drugs kicked in, things got a little wonky.
First off I told the nurses to make sure Marcel went and got a sandwich... I was dead set on him taking a break because I was worried he hadn't eaten in hours.
And then after a little bit, I started to shake. I couldn't control the shakes and my blood pressure started to tank. We couldn't get a good read on baby's HR because of my uncontrollable shaking. And it felt scary.
All of the sudden the room was filling with nurses, Marcel didn't have any room to move around, and felt like he was also out of control in the situation. He just stood there like a rock and stayed calm for me. But I knew he was worried.
The Drs & Nurses were giving me ALL THE FLUIDS! I had been moved up to compression bags and had 6 bags of IV fluids in under an hour to try and get my HR under control.
Once I started to normalize a bit we started to push again. Still, baby was not cooperating. I kept asking for more time.
I agreed to allow the OB to use the forceps. They called in the other resident (who was the forceps specialist) and once he got there it was a matter of minutes before baby was born.
After 16 hours in the hospital, and 5 hours of pushing, they laid my sweet baby girl on my chest and my whole world changed.
Everything was right in the world at that moment. I couldn't have been in a higher state of euphoria.
I felt proud of myself, broken into a million pieces, but I did it. We did it baby girl!
Marcel and I had actually not yet picked a name. It was between two and took us a bit of time to really settle on one. But, once she was wrapped up and we each got to hold her, it was an easy decision.
Strong, Fierce, Beautiful & Feminine.
I couldn't have done it without Marcel. He was strong, steady, and helped me in every way through that whole process. I felt safe with him by my side. He anticipated my every need and backed off when he knew I just needed a minute.
Thank you Marcel! I love you so much.
And thank you Elle. For choosing me to be your mom. For teaching me everything I need to know, for making me a better mom, woman, friend and person. Thank you for bringing me so much incredible joy, love and laughter.
You came into this world a strong, beautiful, independent girl. And you will leave a lasting impression on every soul you get to touch. You are a force to be reckoned with and I could not be more proud.